No, Depression Can’t Have Me

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| This is the 476th story of Our Life Logs |


I was born in the 1980s in Gainesville, Florida. Growing up in a very strict Christian family, I was expected to settle down and start a family. As I waited for Mr. Right to come into my life, I built a career as a dance choreographer when I was in my 20s. It was through fate and a little luck that I found love through my job. We fell head over heels for each other and by February 2009, we were married.

My husband and I fit together like puzzle pieces and held the same desires. We wanted to have kids, and soon. In 2011, we welcomed our baby girl into our little family. We were shaking with excitement and nerves as we raised our little girl, but we made her the center of our universe as we discovered how to be the best possible parents.

Our family grew in the next couple years, blessed with another baby girl and then a baby boy. By the time our son came, we decided that we were finished having kids. As I became a busy mother of three, I had to put aside my career in performing, but I was happy taking care of my kids. I picked up writing again. I say again because I had grown up enjoying writing—I wanted to be a journalist when I was younger. With my children along my side, I started working on my first novel. I was on and off writing for a while, because I was unsure as to how I wanted to end it.

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It seemed finding my ending would have to wait because three years later in 2016, I woke up not feeling very well. I knew this feeling and what it could mean, so I went out and bought a pregnancy test. The little plus sign revealed that our family was not complete yet like we’d thought. Clearly, God had another plan. Although it was a surprise, I was excited as ever to be pregnant again. We couldn’t wait to find out what we were having. When the ultrasound showed we were having another boy, we were ecstatic. Two boys and two girls. We were going to be so blessed!

We took all the pregnancy precautions including checkups, tests, and blood work. We didn’t have any problems with our first three kids, so we were not expecting anything unusual. But, later in the evening on the day I’d gotten blood work done, I received a call from the doctor.

“We found something in your blood,” he said. “We need you to come back for another ultrasound.”

The doctor then explained that there was a chance my baby’s spine could be at risk, and possibly the complication happened because of my age, as I was already in my 30s. I anxiously awaited my updated appointment.

The ultrasound showed that my baby was okay, but because of my elevated blood pressure, they needed to keep me overnight to monitor me for signs of preeclampsia. I began to panic. I didn’t even know what preeclampsia was or what it entailed.

But it turned out staying for observation was the right call, because they found that I did indeed have preeclampsia. It meant that I was at risk for high blood pressure that could lead to organ damage, especially my liver and kidneys. This of course could affect our baby, so I was terrified. After they sent me home, I was put on bed rest and had to constantly monitor my blood pressure and any symptoms that could mean a harsher fate.

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I experienced a lot of discomfort for the remainder of my pregnancy, accompanied with a lot of sleepless nights. I eventually went to the emergency room because I was in so much pain that I couldn’t sleep. The doctors clocked my blood pressure in at 210/121, and I was immediately admitted. At this point, I was terrified and had no idea what was happening.

No one could determine the root of the problem, so I kept getting tossed to different doctors. Finally, one doctor had a theory: HELLP syndrome. My heart sank when they explained that this was a life-threatening complication that stemmed from the preeclampsia and meant the rate of survival for both me and my baby were very low. I was transported to another hospital for an emergency c-section in an effort to prevent me from losing my baby.

It took me a few hours before I woke up from the surgery, but I was told my beautiful baby boy was delivered alive and breathing. I came out reaching for my son. When I noticed his absence, I said,

“Where’s our baby?”

“He’s fine,” my husband replied. “He’s a little small so they rushed him to NICU right away.”

“Will I be able to hold him?”

“I don’t know. But we can go see him if you’d like.”

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Time seemed to slow down the first time I laid eyes on our baby boy. He was beautiful but also so tiny, and tubes laced his body. I couldn’t hold him—that broke my heart—but I could at least touch his little hands. I sobbed as I felt our little boy squeeze my finger. I wanted nothing more than to scoop him in my arms, hold him, and kiss him, but I couldn’t. And that was sad.

I went down to the NICU for the next few days to see him, and every time I asked the same question, “Can I hold my son?”  The words, “Not today, maybe tomorrow” kept getting thrown back to me, but still, I waited with high hopes that the day would come when I could hold my baby and take him home.

When I visited next, they said he was doing well, and the changes were stark. He was in good spirits, and his complexion was really bright. I still didn’t get a chance to hold him, but just knowing that he was doing better brightened my day. They were going to have to keep him a little longer, but I was relieved to see him improving. I didn’t know when I left that it would be the last time I saw my son alive.

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That same day, I was discharged from the hospital. Before we could even leave, my husband and I got a call from the nurse in the NICU.

“Something’s wrong. We need you to come right away.”

We sprang into action, rushing down to the NICU. But upon our arrival, they shooed us off, keeping us out of the loop as all the nurses crowded around his bed, coding. I was hurt and angry and totally confused as to what was going on. We had just left him, and he was fine. What had happened?

When the nurses began to disperse, I knew in my gut that he was gone. My baby boy was dead. I remember being in such shock that at first, I had no emotion. It was like I was having an out-of-body experience. I saw myself falling to the ground crying and screaming, while in actuality I was standing with a blank stare.

They wrapped my baby in a blanket and handed him to me. What cruel fate that I finally got to hold my son after he had already passed. I cried, and I cried at how unfair the world was. My son was only alive for three days. He died before he could truly experience the world.

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In the months after the loss, I locked myself in my room, too depressed to face the world. I was lost on how I was supposed to ever live normally again. I felt hopeless. I felt empty. I felt like a horrible mother. In my sadness came rage, and I took out a lot of my anger on my husband, because I didn’t know how to deal with the grief. I was snapping on everybody and even considered taking my own life.

I thought things would never improve, but then by chance, around the holidays I met my husband’s coworker’s wife. We began talking, and I soon discovered she was easy to talk to. I later learned that she was a therapist. Before I knew, I told her everything that I had been going through. She encouraged me to keep talking; she said the more I talked about it the more I could release the hurt. “Don’t hold it in,” she said. She even suggested we get an emotional support pet to help the family cope. Doing so transformed our household, and I wasn’t so angry anymore. I began to rethink things.

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I decided that I did not want my son’s death to be in vain. I wanted to find a way to honor his memory; my son’s memory deserved to be a happy one. I knew the first step to doing that was to change the way I had been acting and stop letting my life slip away because of my grief. I got up and started fighting against the hurt that had plagued me. I trusted that God allowed this to happen for a reason. My son in a lot of ways brought our family closer together.

In my healing, I got back into writing and finished my novel. I went back to school and work; I graduated college, became a certified life coach, and started my own company, Proud Life Coaching. I had to prove to my son that I wasn’t a punk, that I was a fighter like him, so I said “No, depression can’t have me.”

I remembered what the therapist said, and I started talking to other mothers who had gone through this same thing. I started telling my story, and by doing so, I discovered that I was helping other mothers. I began to feel more fulfilled and less depressed by my son’s death.

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It’s been three years since we lost our baby boy. It wasn’t an easy journey to heal, but I think I made it. The best thing I could tell any mother who has lost a child is to make your child’s death means something. Harming yourself or soaking your life in depression is not helping the situation at all.  No mother is at fault when something like this happens. The first thing we all think is: what did I do wrong? God, why me? I went through all of this and blamed myself for everything, but I realized that had my baby lived, he could have lived his life sick and miserable. I wouldn’t have wanted that. My son taught me how to fight, and it’s because of his demonstration of strength and courage that I was able to beat depression and turn his loss into something positive.

 

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This is the story of Janice Lyons

Janice is a certified life coach and blogger for her company Proud Life Coaching based in Florida. She has coached individuals and couples in their relationships for over 10 years. From a young age, Janice had dreams of starting a family, and after three kids she was satisfied, only to be surprised with a fourth child. Unfortunately, this pregnancy brought complications and the baby didn’t survive, which launched Janice into a deep depression. It wasn’t until she realized that she was not living a life in honor of her lost son that she decided to make a change and overcome her depression. Janice has published a novel that includes self-help and motivational passages. She is also a seven-year songwriter and arranger of many recordings dating back to 2001. She has written songs for gospel groups. From 2001 to 2011, Janice also worked for The True Heart Music Corp. as a songwriter and background vocalist. She has an associate’s degree in creative writing from Full Sail University, and is known to speak directly to her readers in a down-to- earth manner. Janice hopes her story can help other mothers see that working through grief is possible. You can check out her website at: https://proudlife5.wixsite.com/website.

 

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This story first touched our hearts on January 9, 2020.

| Writer: Janice Lyons | Editor: Kristen Petronio |

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To protect the privacy of the storyteller and those involved in this retelling, some of the names may have been changed. (1)

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